Podcast #146 Phrasal Verbs with UP – Part 2

Published in the category Grammar and Usage, Phrasal Verbs


The phrasal verbs brush up and brush up on both mean to re-study something in order to bring your skills closer to a level you had earlier.

We are planning a trip to Spain. I’d better brush up my Spanish.

I’d better brush up on my Spanish.



When you burn up something, you destroy it completely with fire.

When Sam broke up with his girlfriend he was furious with her. He burned up all her photos

He burned all her photos up.

You can also say that the fire does the burning up.

Life changed overnight for our community. The fire burned up half the town.

The fire burned half the town up.

When something is completely destroyed in a fire, it has burned up.

The forest fires in California this year are terrible. Thousands of acres have burned up.

When referring to fuel, like gasoline, burn up means to use or consume.

My car is very uneconomical to run. It burns up too much gas.



If someone is ahead of you, you catch up with that person when you reach the same position at the same time.

My friend was six blocks ahead of me and walking fast. It took me ten minutes to catch up with him.

Suppose your class is assigned to read 50 pages a week for a course. You get a bad cold and for two weeks you are too sick to read. That puts you a hundred pages behind. You start reading more than 50 pages a week. You catch up, when you finally have read as many pages as everyone else in the class.

She missed three weeks of school. It will be hard for her to catch up.

It will be hard for her to catch up with the class.



When you cheer up someone you make them feel happier.

The children had slight colds and weren’t feeling well. I cheered them up with some jokes.

I cheered up the children.

Cheer up can also be an intransitive verb, that is, a verb with no object.

The weather report said that the storm would not be as bad as they had predicted. Denise cheered up when she heard that.



The phrasal verb chop up means to cut into small pieces with a series of blows.

Yes, you can help me make the salad. Chop up the lettuce.

Chop the lettuce up.



The expression clam up means to refuse to talk or to stop talking suddenly.

The young man got nervous when the detective questioned him about his activities the previous night. So he simply clammed up.



You clean up when you make a place tidy.

Jake and his friends watched a football game and had some pizza and beer. Afterwards they cleaned up the living room.

Afterwards they cleaned the living room up.

Afterwards they cleaned up.

Cleaning up can refer to reducing lawlessness or anti-social behavior.

The level of crime and corruption is making people’s lives miserable. It’s time to clean up the city.

It’s time to clean the city up.

Clean up can also mean to make a lot of money.

He has a way of recognizing young companies with potential. Last year he cleaned up on the stock market.

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The ESL Aloud podcast lessons are designed for people who want to increase their abilities in speaking English as a second language (ESL).